Free N95 masks in kits for every home

Free N95 masks in kits for every home

SINGAPORE - Every household here will receive three N95 face masks, as part of a nation-wide push to get individuals to think about being prepared for emergencies, such as haze crises and flu pandemics.

The 3M brand foldable masks are packed in a "Stay Prepared" kit that will also contain instructions in four languages on how to put them on, and useful emergency contact numbers.

A total of 1.2 million kits will be delivered to homes between today and next Monday. The initiative is led by Temasek Cares, a non-profit philantrophic arm under Temasek Holdings, in partnership with Singapore Power and Singapore Post.

Temasek Cares will be pumping in $4 million from its $40 million war chest, called the Temasek Emergency Preparedness Fund, for the mask distribution programme.

The fund was set up earlier this year to help Singaporeans prepare and deal with emergencies. Last month, a $1.5 million project to train 60 therapists to help children deal with traumatic situations, such as accidents, was also launched.

Richard Magnus, chairman of Temasek Cares, said the kits will give households an "initial stock" of masks to encourage them to plan their own contingencies.

"It's a habit of mind we want to prompt... Last June, there was a severe haze that impacted Singapore... we need to be prepared," said Mr Magnus.

The ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre expects this year's haze to be worse than last year's.

This is because of lower than usual rainfall expected from now till October in parts of the region and the El Nino weather pattern, which is linked to drought, said reports.

Being prepared earlier will also prevent a repeat of last June, when people scrambled to stock up on face masks.

An additional 17,000 kits will also be delivered to over 140 charity homes, and another 300,000 have been prepared on standby for needy families.

Mary Abishagam, 57, a senior administrative assistant with Singapore Power, said she will be volunteering an extra three hours every day, on top of her regular work, to help pack the kits for delivery.

"It's going to be challenging, but we will manage... We are getting people prepared and not many people have thought of keeping masks in their homes," she said cheerily.

Members of the public who wish to get more information about the delivery of the kits can call a hotline, 1800-738-2000, from today until May 24, between 8am and 8pm daily.

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